Consumerist called the Suze Orman Approved Card, “Cream of the Crap” and upon further investigation, that would be a compliment.
I am thrilled that media outlets like Fox Business are calling foul and shining a light on not only Suze’s reaction to the backlash, but to the insane number of fees and the apparent lies being told about the benefits of the card:
Many who have been long time fans of Suze will probably remember that she even warned against using prepaid debit cards in her book, Young Fabulous and Broke:
Yet, she touts her new card as doing the very things she warns against in the book. Now do you see why there’s been such an outrage?
Since the Suze Orman Prepaid Debit Approved Card: DENIED article went live last week, many of you have asked about whether Suze’s card is a good idea. In short, it isn’t and here’s why.
Excessive Fee Structure: 20 fees
$36 in fees per year to start as the card comes with a $3/monthly account maintenance fee.
ABCNews.com does an awesome job of laying it out for us:
“By contrast, the American Express prepaid card doesn’t carry a monthly fee. Other prepaid cards, including the one by industry heavyweight Green Dot, give users ways to avoid the monthly fee, either by setting up direct deposit or making a certain number of transactions each month.
The ATM fees are another matter. The Approved card partners with the Allpoint ATM network, which has 35,000 machines nationwide in drug stores such as CVS, Walgreens and other retail locations. But customers using an Allpoint machine are still charged $2 per withdrawal, unless they set up direct deposit or a recurring bank transfer of $20 or more. Each transfer or deposit waives ATM fees for 30 days.
If cardholders use an out-of-network ATM, they’re charged $2 per withdrawal plus the ATM operator’s fee. In most cases, that would add up to $4 or $5 per withdrawal.
Then there are the more ancillary fees to consider. For example, cardholders can speak with a customer service representative once a month. But after that, each call costs $2. It’s free to pay bills electronically. Those who need to pay rent or another bill by paper check have to pay $1 per payment. A full list of fees can be found at http://theapprovedcard.com/fees .”
Here are the fees you should be aware of:
The card does not not help improve your credit. Debit card transactions are not reported to the credit bureaus.
TNJ.com reminds us:
“What they are doing is for the next 18 to 24 months you will be paying them to be a guinea pig in their little experiment to see if they can find a way to tie prepaid debit card transactions to your credit. Four words for you Ms. Orman… IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN. You know better than I know that prepaid cards are the same as cash purchases and FICO is primarily concerned with how you repay creditors, not how you spend your cash.”
The emergency fund option is pure fluff.
There are other options that allow you to store your money without paying fees to store the money you need to use in the event of an emergency. What’s more is that the people who this card is targeting probably have a hard time putting money away for emergencies. Why encourage them to store it in an account that eats away at their emergency funds on a monthly and even daily basis.
All three reports and credit scores are available once a year via Annualcreditreport.com.
Furthermore, the score you get is a Vantage Score and not Suze’s own FICO scores that she promotes like pays for her teeth whitening sessions. There’s also an identity theft protection option but if you’re monitoring your account regularly then you should be on top of this. I personally use IdentityGuard.com and love it. There’s also CreditKarma.com that allows you to get your credit score upon signup. Also, remember that it is important to get all 3 credit scores from Equifax, Transunion and Experian, as lending institutions look at all 3, not only 1.
Admittedly, this card is primarily being marketed to the unbanked, those unable to get a checking account due to a history of mismanagement with past checking accounts. However, there are alternatives:
Bank On is an initiative which lists a coalition of banks that target the unbanked by showcasing banks that carry low or no fee checking accounts.
Credit unions allow you to establish credit, and get access to debit cards but with no fees. Check out www.findacreditunion.com, www.creditunion.coop or www.ncua.gov to find a credit union in your area to join.
About 80% of all banks in the US use ChexSystems to verify new bank accounts and for the unbanked that means being banned from most major banking institutions. Chexaccount lists not only the banks but the states which have banks that do not use Chexsystems. If this applies to you then take a minute to peruse their site to look into which banks in your area will allow you to open account without using Chexsystems.
If you must use a prepaid debit card then American Express’ debit card seems to be one that that has the least amount of fees. In fact, they have one fee which is the ATM debit fee which seems reasonable. Here are the benefits of the AMEX prepaid debit card:
|NO ANNUAL FEES|
|NO MONTHLY FEES|
|NO CUSTOMER SERVICE FEES|
|NO CREDIT CHECKS OR OVERDRAFT FEES|
|NO TRANSACTION FEES|
|ONE FREE ATM WITHDRAWAL MONTHLY
Thereafter, a fee of $2.00 per withdrawal is assessed against the Card balance. Please note: ATM owners/operators may also charge their own fees for each withdrawal.
What are your thoughts on the new Approved Card from Suze Orman? Would you use? Why? Why not? I promise you, with all the backlash Suze and her PR team are reading so be sure to sound off and let her know (pros and cons) where you stand.
(featured photo: amodernquest.com†)